“Be kind to yourself and the world.”
That from wellbeing specialist, Sarah McGuinness, at what can be an extremely difficult time of the year for many.
“While the summer festive season can be a wonderful time to take a break from the pressures of work and other commitments, it can also be a stressful time for many,” she says. “It can be tricky navigating the expectations of family, friends, and colleagues, and managing the rituals of socialising with food and alcohol. Add to that travel commitments, financial pressures, school holidays, and it’s easy to see why a significant number of us find this time of the year pretty challenging.”
Sarah says having a young family herself and her own business, she can empathise with the pressure of trying to juggle it all.
“It’s important to keep up the foundations of good health right now, such as exercise, eating well and getting enough sleep (not news, I know!), and it’s also important to make sure that you find time to do the things that restore you,” she says.
Here’s Sarah’s list of five things you can do to take care over the coming festive season:
Be right here, right now
Practicing mindfulness is probably the last thing you’d think to add to your festive to-do list, but it can be a helpful calming tool if you feel overwhelmed at any point. Mindfulness is about living in the moment and taking note of what’s happening. Examples include using your five senses to enjoy the foods on offer, watching the sun on the water at the beach, and being present with loved ones. A great way to pause is to take a really deep breath, exhale and let your shoulders drop.
Know that good enough is great
There can be a lot of pressure at this time of year, especially when hosting or staying with family and/or friends. Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix when it comes to dealing with difficult people but what you can do, is focus on you. Be clear about what you can control and what you can’t, and what’s important and what’s not. By February next year, most of the things that are stressful now will be long forgotten so give yourself a break and know that good enough is great.
Be with people who love you in all your glory
There’s almost nothing better than spending time with people who love you for who you are and can make you laugh until your sides hurt. Find time to be with those people and find ways to help each other take care – be it a walk together, joining a festive activity or simply sitting down over a cup of tea to catch up on life. There are lots of other great people you can talk to in your community too. Check out the Mental Health Foundation’s page for numbers to call if you need support and a listening ear.
Celebrate the goodness
When you get a chance, write down a list of all the good moments from 2019. It might be a list of big things, small things or both. The idea is to come up with 10 to 20 things that make you smile and feel buoyant. And those things can be personal and professional. My highlights include all the awesome people I’ve worked with this year around the country and of course, the time I’ve spent with my family and friends.
Support the community
There are many families that go without in some way at this time of year. Consider donating your time or items to organisations that support families or individuals in need. Or if you know of someone, reach out to them in whatever way feels comfortable to you and to them. Check on neighbours and colleagues too. To quote the Mental Health Foundation, “Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connection with the people around you.”
Take care, stay safe and wishing you a happy festive season ahead.
Give the gift of care: Check out our special Christmas collaboration with the Tairāwhiti Menzshed.
You can buy a limited edition hand-made wooden stand and a set of Self Care Cards HERE and $2.80 from each sale goes to the Tarawhiti Menzshed.
Also the new Self Care Poster HERE $1 from every poster purchased goes to national domestic violence charity Shine. Shine has been helping victims of domestic abuse to become safe since 1990. Your donation will help victims of domestic violence get safe and stay safe and help break the cycle of violence. To find out more about domestic violence in New Zealand and hear about Shine’s incredible work, click here to listen to an interview with Shine’s Holly Carrington, hosted by Sarah McGuinness.
BSC, BSc(Hons), GradDipPsych, DipPrCoaching, CertIV Training and Assessment Cert III Fitness.
Sarah McGuinness is the founder of My Health Revolution and is committed to helping people change their lives for the better, taking control of their lives. She has degrees in psychology and communications, complemented by qualifications in training, coaching and fitness. She launched her Take Care campaign in November, which includes conversations with a number of different women about their busy lives. Sarah’s “Self Care” cards are a way to encourage us to take a moment to look after ourselves with easy, no-cost ideas. “Put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before you help others,” she says. “Because so many of us want to help others but often forget about ourselves.”
Sarah specialises in corporate wellbeing, working with businesses to support their employees in real and effective ways. “A fruit bowl in the staffroom just doesn’t cut it”, she says.
Having spent more than 15 years working in organisations across New Zealand and Australia, Sarah has held senior positions in leadership and capability development, encouraging men and women to become confident leaders and team members.
A busy mother to two equally busy young children, Sarah makes all-important time to enjoy cycling and the great outdoors.
McGuinness, S. M., & Taylor, J. E. (2016). Understanding body image dissatisfaction and disordered eating in midlife adults. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, (45), 1, 4-12.